Top Ten Miraculous Fictional Head Injuries

Top Ten Miraculous Fictional Head Injuries

Fiction is full of miracles caused by hitting people on the head. Reality is still catching up.

#2. Harry Osborne, Spider-Man 3


There are countless times in the fake history of the human race when somebody has been hit on the head and forgotten really important, implausibly specific information. Spider-Man 3, a forced and premature effort in a franchise much in need of a fallow season, was, for the most part, one of those times. The amnesia subplot plot was awkward, and the movie was pretty common and mundane all around.

Why then, does it rank so high on the countdown?

Because, for a brief moment in this movie, the bloat steps aside and we see its real heart — we see the very purest benefits of being hit in the head really hard (which is starting to sound like a better and better idea — I’d better finish this countdown before I give into temptation!).

That’s right — when Harry Osborne is struck on the head, forgetting his obsession with revenge, forgetting his supervillainy, forgetting even his own history, there follows, of all things, an omelet-making montage:

One wonders why he forgot nearly everything meaningful about himself from the last few years, but he didn’t forget how to make omelets. Perhaps it was a temporal thing — the retrograde amnesia from the trauma only reached back to about the middle of the first Spider-Man movie.

This book is full of interesting stories about real brain conditions that don't generally involve omelettes.

This book is full of interesting stories about real brain conditions that don't generally involve omelets.

That would be consistent with drab, uninteresting, “scientific” notions of what happens when you suffer brain damage, as distinct from what we know really happens, which usually involves discovering what life is really about, getting a cooler, more ethnic nickname, or shrugging off the curse of a giant demonic raccoon.

I rented and watched Spider-Man 3 with my little sister, who was 16 at the time. By the time the omelet-making montage came up, I had lost most of my interest in the movie and was openly mocking it. During the montage, though, I looked over at my sister, and her face lit up.

I considered it again. The smiling, cooking, dancing around with dashing, cheeky James Franco, the utter domestic bliss of Kirsten Dunst, untainted by subordinating gender roles. The corny music. The over-the-shoulder camera angles. At that moment, my mind got a little broader, and I learned something precious.

“Hey,” I asked, “Is this what it’s like inside a teenage girl’s head all the time?”

After a quick, irrepressible giggle, she answered with certainty.


And she laughed again, and smiled.

It’s between more than a bit late and more than a bit early for most of us to make of this revelation, but in case you were ever wondering, there it is.

11 Comments on “Top Ten Miraculous Fictional Head Injuries”

  1. Ryan #

    The most miraculous thing about Leonard’s injury in Memento is that he is able to remember that he has amnesia. How is it that his head injury stops him from forming new memories, but the doctors were able to inform him of his condition? I haven’t been able to watch the movie since I noticed that inconsistency.
    I think that there’s actually a chapter in the Sacks book that deals with anterograde amnesia. The man with the affliction, when confronted with his reality, becomes horrified for ten or fifteen minutes, then slips back into the time ten or fifteen years in the past just before he developed the brain damage. Great read, btw.


  2. fenzel #

    Yeah, Leonard talks about this discrepancy at some point in _Memento_ – about if his condition is what he tends to think it is, he shouldn’t be able to remember the actual accident, and how therefore it might not be brain damage – he might just have psychological blocks. A software rather than a hardware problem, as it were.

    If that’s true, it potentially changes a lot of the moral implications of what Leonard has done over the course of the movie. But it’s left a bit open-ended.


  3. Gab #

    Oh snap.

    I just remembered _50 First Dates_. Similar memory loss to _Memento_. Imagine being a woman and waking up with no idea why you’re clearly multiple months pregnant…


  4. fenzel #

    If I wake up being a woman, do I have to like _Moulin Rouge_?

    Because that would be a dealbreaker.


  5. Lanthanide #

    I remember Guy Pearce from The Adventures of Prascilla! Queen of the Desert.


  6. Amy #

    It wasn’t Naruto that caused Gaara’s ego death and subsequent alliance with the light side of the force…it was that toad Gamabunta. I think he secretes a hallucinogenic substance from his glands. Gaara embraced his shadow side (Shukaku) and went on to become the Hero. Yep. That’s what happened. Or should have anyway. Most people I know who have experienced head trauma end up worse for the wear. But the toad juice on the other hand…


  7. fenzel #


    Not _To Wong Fu: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar_?

    It’s so weird that that kind of movie also has a movie pair – like you’ve got Armageddon and Deep Impact, Volcano and Dante’s Peak, Valkyrie and Defiance, and a whole bunch of action stars in drag.


    I frickin’ love Gamabunta. All fictional characters should get to drink sake with the giant toad boss of the Yakuza.


  8. Ingrid #

    Very entertaining!!


  9. Ambelina #

    Is this about serious head injuries or just when people bump their heads? Because if it is non seriuos injuries, the scene in Stir of Echoes where Kevin Bacon’s wife goes into the basement to check if the water heater is lit then gets up and bangs her head on…something above her, that really got me i felt it.


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